Stats prove Gerrard wrong

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Liverpool Steven Gerrard v Everton PA PhotosIf Steven Gerrard's shooting this season is as wild as his accusations, Liverpool could be in trouble

"An idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality."

That is The Oxford English dictionary definition of the word 'delusional'. As there is a multitude of evidence to the contrary, the post-derby thoughts of Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard fall firmly into that definition. Labelling Everton a "long-ball side" is both disrespectful and incorrect.

- Gerrard criticises 'direct' Everton
- Gerrard berates Neville for dive

It started with Brendan Rodgers on Sunday and Steven Gerrard continued it on Monday. Speaking after the derby, Rodgers said: "We had to stand up to a lot of long, direct balls into the box... we changed it tactically and that gave us more stability against the long ball." The Liverpool manager went on to use each of the phrases "long ball" and "direct" at least once more in his post-match interview.

The post-match statistics quite simply fail to support the views of Rodgers. In terms of long balls as a passing percentage, Everton recorded 14% in comparison to Liverpool's 17%. Even after the removal of any possible anomalies, such as throw-ins, through balls or crosses, Everton's statistic is 13.8% with Liverpool at 14.6%.

On the back of Rodgers' comments, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard put his weight behind the long-ball argument by comparing Everton to Stoke, saying: "I thought we stood up to a team that are very similar to Stoke." In spite of the supposed direct nature of their football, just 39% of Everton's passes were forward with Liverpool playing 48% of their passes forward. With Everton registering a lower percentage of forward passes, it is hard to give credence to Gerrard's notion that Everton are direct.

According to Gerrard, "Everton are effective because they have some big physical lads in the team and are very direct". Despite Everton having "big physicals lads in the team", though, Liverpool ended the match having conceded more fouls. Aside from Marouane Fellaini, it is hard to identify these "big physical lads". A team containing Leighton Baines, Leon Osman, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar and Seamus Coleman will never trouble the opposition physically.

In another wild proclamation, Gerrard stated: "The only team who tried to play football was us." Once again, the statistics suggest otherwise with Everton (400) attempting more passes than Liverpool (314) and with greater accuracy (79% - 77%). The home side also enjoyed more possession with 56.2% of the ball. Everton dominated the possession and passing statistics, quite impressive for a side that is "very similar to Stoke".

The deeper you delve into the statistics, the quicker Gerrard's comments lose all credibility. Everton created more chances (14 – 11), attempted more crosses (34 – 17) with a greater accuracy (32% - 12%) and had more shots (16 – 13). The statistics continue to show that, in terms of passing and other relevant statistics, Everton were the dominant side. Further dispelling the long ball myth, Everton attempted more passes in the final third (156 – 103) with a greater accuracy (65% - 61%).

Another Gerrard quote reiterated his belief that Everton use long-ball tactics, as he said: "Every single time they got the ball to their keeper it came in long." Tim Howard played 15 long balls in the match with Liverpool's Brad Jones playing 20. Howard also boasted a better pass completion rate (63%) than Jones (40%). There is a theme developing here; once again, the statistics do not validate the opinions of Steven Gerrard or Brendan Rodgers.

So, while Steven Gerrard claims that Everton are a long-ball side, let us remember this man once compared Joe Cole to Lionel Messi.

Another Gerrard claim was that "there was only one team who came into the derby trying to play football". For once, I have to agree with him, though looking at the statistics, it is clear that the team in question was Everton, not Liverpool.

All statistics courtesy of EPLIndex

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